SPIRES AND MINARETS

Paul Sutherland

SPIRES AND MINARETS
Paul Sutherland

Spires and Minarets © Paul Sutherland, 2010 Sunk Island Publishing 7 Lee Avenue, Heighington, Lincoln, LN4 1RD www.scribd.com/sunk island publishing ISBN 978-1-874778-76-9 Cover photograph by Afifa Ematullah Some of these poems appeared in the anthology Spires & Steeples published in 2007 by Arts NK, edited by Rennie Parker. The poem 'The Beloved' was first published in the international dual language journal Tadeeb, Spring, 2009 Many thanks to the arts officers at Arts NK for hiring me as a writer-in-residence to explore the Lincolnshire district of North Kesteven on foot which inspired most of these writings. Thanks also to the local residents I met who passed on interesting details about their various vicinities, who provided me with accommodation and shelter. Thanks also to my dear wife, Afifa, for her comments about the text, and for her reading and editing skills.

Spires and Minarets

Some years ago I walked through Lincolnshire fens and heath between Lincoln and Sleaford to the south. I recorded impressions in poems and prose - the landscapes and communities I passed through in May when hawthorn and campion were in bloom. I had already converted to Islam, becoming a Sufi Muslim three years before.

A Campion’s blush across a lagoon of young wheat – an island-wood you’d need wings to reach

I won’t walk this route alone – so many will share who’ve never been here

my first wife steps out. once I dreamt to spend midnight with her in such a green-surrounded wood

clay ground dry and split even few rainy sun-drops welcomed on a leaf’s face.

The Find After the striding jacketed woman with two roughly same aged children passed by with a dog they called Hector, on the thin bridleway, I knelt down to a clue: a narrow plastic hair-band with some Milky Way’s shimmer along it between naff love hearts. I picked it up, combing my finger on twin inside ridges of tiny teeth. Then threw it away into green cover among dense currents of bluebells thinking that a better resting-place. But the pinkish arc shone back in a sun-shot between trees, beckoning; I had to retrieve and pocket the thing. Till stepping out of the wood’s shade at the young wheat’s loud edge, at once I thought, I should’ve left it on the path.

* * * By Roman Car Dyke yellow iris – this body too in need to gaze.

At Digby Church dedicated to Thomas à Becket Twelfth century arch a bird’s artful weaving above carved chevrons.

At Digby, Evening After spring’s long aridness, late afternoon cloud came in gangs. The sky thumped with long downpours. Then a rainbow branded the eastern escape routes. I stroll around the churchyard; looking up, find finial-clustered spires at each broach of the steeple, each further probing into the sky. Inside, I read the list of 1604 plague victims; determined to go down all the names, status, first names and family members. My eyes leap from the photograph’s original record, damaged and in an alien cipher, to the modern transcript. They’re side by side on the west wall in the same slim frame. Against one list’s clear type imposes the other - a stained river’s wild scribbles. I keep trying to make connections between different names, puzzling if they were, or how they might be, related. Somehow making links reduces, in my mind, each sufferer’s individual anguish; makes my reading tolerable. To be a community meant something, especially in disaster, it hinted at love. I imagine the rotation of mourners. Then, I withdraw. Finding more secure ground outside, gaze at the tower’s stonework, guessing where Saxon centuries concluded, then where the Norman, the Early English, and then ours began. I continue around through wet illuminated grass, twice, then back to the west frontage. Finally I pause, intrigued enough to investigate a relatively recent bench in a small enclave – a childlike place – with a low hedgerow surrounding it pointing in an eastward direction. With the back of my fingers I rub the rain-haze off an engraved plaque. This wooden seat is dedicated to a Canadian, born in Digby, who after many years living ten thousand miles away, was flown back home to be buried here. Drifting round the site, I wonder where my own resting-place will be, in my homeland Canada or my home Britain. Lincolnshire’s unbounded sky discloses far curtains of rain that run and waver under cumulus in fleets obscuring the blue beyond. For a second, the approaching squalls look like ephemeral tornadoes. Two woodpigeons stay motionless on power lines, suspended in mid-air as if they don’t need wings to elevate. That village son returned from everything he once must have enjoyed, discovered and marvelled at: the Rocky Mountains, the Pacific’s curved horizon and sky-scraping redwoods. But he wished to come back to lesser heights, to the more modest landscape of the fens and perhaps his plague ancestors. Before I left on this walking tour, my kind wife said, I hope you always

find a different route to journey along. She doesn’t like taking the same path back from anywhere. There are so many returns, u-turns and back-words, that it’s often hard to know which is the way forward. On his moulded bench massive raindrops – or I’d sit try to share his vista.

Next Day

At Walcott I find a bus shelter where I can sit and scribble down.

On the fens, overhead, an ocean. Ahead it’s a jagged blue sliver in the distance; hard at my heels rain’s marching nail-studs until a corncrake announces the next short clearing: was that white flash a hawthorn petal or scented hailstone?

soaked on the northwest side from head to foot like a tree carrying moss I stroll into Walcott.

profuse daisy-chains — is a field always sacred near Catley Abbey?

Find II: Nothing to lift, retrieve or pocket Catley Abbey doesn’t exist. Yet this morning my B & B landlady told me her son-in-law cared for the site. I walk to Walcott, nearest village, search for inferences of the sacred, wondering if nearby where the terrain slowly slopes up if the abbey once stood there. Grange Street, on a low sign, seems

another clue. Tall grasses, moisture-and-sun turned, shine. Where is this non-existent abbey? And still it doesn’t seem that strange, but exactly human, to care for something that no longer exists… but is too deeply written into emptiness to be discarded just like the corncrake or skylark tooling space with sharp metal song. I have to imagine the sculptor’s mallet and chisel digging chevrons and worshipful forms into ashlar and sandstone: a monk below instructing. On island-mounds hardly above engulfing marshy fens, hermits and mendicants founded outposts. Perhaps Catley attracts ‘special attention’ because of the holiness, if inconspicuous, that’s interred below its coarsened green surface. But what’s protected and how’s care shown: the grass cut, wind-scourged debris raked up and removed, that somebody knows the pigments on vanished statues and can report that a famous screen was buried, resurrected and later used in a nearby parish church? Someone takes time to observe, (doesn’t listen to spectral choirs) but inhales May-scented boundaries, comprehending the monastic divide that runs across varied tones of age and olive green. Does any of this insist on a carer? No walls to maintain or children to warn off; nothing to charge for; a non-memorial, not a thing to cast a sun-dial’s shadow. Unlike ruins at renowned Rievaulx, Catley has no skeletonshapes to try to deny the historical facts of wreckage and likely carnage. At that prominent site so much remains to defy an era’s close. There the spirit appears to idle, waiting until another corps of stones is rebuilt; stands erect, colourful and powerful when our land’s faith’s restored. At Catley a few monks vainly repelled Henry’s dissolution troopers (though Cromwell’s blamed for scrubbing the reds and golds off the stone angels). Here no grey vestiges rise to mock resistant sainthood, or ruse of form exists to deceive imagination into thinking that the spirit doesn’t migrate to new worlds, new expressions, new beliefs, but stays forever in its tenth century field: an instance - perfecting nostalgia. Catley makes little pretence to the eternity of place. What remains to be tended, is just an absence. Its imaginary edges can be soothed and swabbed, even nursed by caring hands. But in a mad rush, it seems, Catley’s essence, its reality fled from the site. And yet, the abbey couldn’t help but leave - in that wrench - a wound of love in the fen’s side.

Shelter by whitest flowers and partly open ash greens, from a farmyard’s concrete watch a passing deluge dive into blackest loam speckled in rows with urgent growth.

Between fierce showers At Zuhr where Catley Abbey once stood God is the universe’s birth. Beautiful, He conceived all: pond, sky, cushioning grass. I celebrate the water, limpid among reeds & held flowers, that I scoop up for ablution; honour the sky stretching my lungs with aerial blasts till I’m eager to praise all with voice. I salute the grass that allows me to spread out this prayer rug, surrendering under my full prostrate weight. Sublime, God planted the pond as if water had searching roots. Carved cloud as mortared blocks to raise sky’s supreme structure. The Subtle, He rolled out grassy fields as His own scented carpet. Look to Him, The Magnificent. the Beloved of the Worlds.

Find III: Catley Abbey, This Nothing Under a tubular gate to the next field after rain, stubborn clay is still cracked. To the south-east, a remnant pond glints. I hook saturated satchel and dripping cape on a maytree’s shorn staff, asking: is it alright for my belongings to hang here? Then stumble down to an elusive edge. The pond swallows drops then dilates with acres of ordered sky mirrored in unplumbable depths. I climb back up. Round the vague site, fawn hares leap, dash through obedient grass and clover; white flecks disappear to moulded earth. A pheasant wings it, barking its warning over greasy turf crossed by bumpy ridges; in troughs, marsh spikes trace lost conduits. Not an object protrudes above hummocks, all’s settled below: sliced off angelic wings old legends of miles-long escape-passages, promises from Gilbertine monks and nuns. A few wildflowers wave, spotted through uncut growth. No residing loam descent. At the double gate, it takes all my power to loop over their posts - two blue ropes. Exhausted, I’m blown into open space; level to each magnetic point, the green pulls far away from a modest ascent, a sacred island of nothing, maybe.

Another Day * * * Find VI: Playing Environment A lyre, a cello, a horizontal guitar I strum three new lines of barbed wire candidly taut between nail-gunned posts. My thumb presses; plucks a grey glimmer and releases each strand to make a bowless solo thrum that carries no distance. I survey the crude fence meant to stop each passing; test tension and pitch down its bare length. Without my touch, a west wind transforms gnarled deciduous to sound with a whining sparse-leafed insistence. A whipping gust wins no rhythm or note from strung barbs that need my fingers’ pulse. In fallow land some forgotten year’s residual grain stalks ‘sussle’ and rustle; an earlier season’s crop surviving broad beans join the ensemble. Three power lines, T pole to T pole stretch following the path’s undulation and I listen but their accompaniment’s beyond hearing. Then circuiting jets, from above the clouds, send down their own sharp recoils, tunnel passages, groaning and thundering, twist tightening bands of unseen barbed wire.

In the Garden at Digby Manor

Violet-bluish horns ground ivy rounds a moss-robed sculptured female nude

What’s human time but expecting death… on the way abandoned to life?

Yellow can’t unfurl in this wind. Vast blue patches at once filmed with white.

Stone venus puzzles why she should stand here: left hand asleep on her breast?

Among many more a golden duckling crosses the seed-freckled pond.

Down among tall flags for a time the day remains a straw nest of light

I wish Love’s griever could see – loving little things helps heal the whole world

she demurs, half smiles through eye-slits downward dreaming, left knee faintly flexed

at peace but perplexed why her small heart must carry much more than she knows.

* * * love-scented hawthorn Rowston’s slenderest steeple over chestnut blooms.

Visiting St Clements, Rowston Find V: Grief A key-holding woman with short grey hair, in black sweater and slacks opens the ancient interior. She directs me to a tympanum behind a wooden screen; draws my eyes toward a swirling pattern adzed in the stone. Its interlacing lines, cruciform grooves with rounded edges convolute in organic manner. Four equal currents flow together in a soft knot, each weaving out through the centre to the limit then turning back towards the heart once more. My guide says, as a child she had, endlessly, drawn this pattern – an obscure symbol of complete inclusive unity. I imagine her innocence giving voice to silent stone. Yours, my friend, that modern sculpture in Dorrington, you carved in wood unknown persons trying to hold up an undefined object. The object’s circular as the huge bole of the tree that once stood and fanned its limbs. Then only the trunk survived and you carved into it perceptively. Do your figures support our sky? Feel the fear of insignificance that weighs upon minor villages: the corollary of protected seclusion? Those straining faces look discontent as they struggle. Your exposed work has no title or sculptor’s plaque like the carvings on the tympanum.

Its symbol once resonated to worshippers, as still, now, the celebrated, Tudor-scripted panels of the Ten Commandments resound, a little dustily, through the church. My escort – when a youngster – with her thin-wristed hand, inscribed not that obvious spectacle from her village religion, but a redundant, secretive form. Her action’s a plucked fact, like my knowing you are the author, chisels in hand, of the humanity in humble relief at Dorrington. She left the church a while ago with the simple phrase, ‘Stay as long as you wish. Just shut the door when you leave and it will lock itself.’ Alone in this tomb and birthplace, only a rampant blackbird, a power mower and the wind, force entry. The Knights Templar used this church: their order’s fate, another sorrow of history. How can that injustice be redressed? St Clement, a martyr too: an even hazier figure, going back further in time. Here, each overt reality is supported by less definite existence; more misted, by less verified evidence. Insubstantials hold up this listed building’s real presence, its architecture and present congregation. I marvel again how one of its members discovered perhaps, after Sunday School in a lesson’s lull or recess, in a moment alone, the strangest design on the most archaic stone and copied it down. Then had to do it over and over as if it could never be complete, never deserted. Sometimes, the least understood image, or hardly noticed silence, breaks through the surface of everyday occasions; demands our unbroken attention. The nearer bond, the more recognised work, fades into the background. The here and now slips away almost forgotten. I think that’s how grief takes us: that supreme sorrow that strikes at love’s defeat, before it’s had a chance to play out a future. That distress, perhaps, only the young know and only know once, arises to dominate the present. Such suffering seems when encountered - impossible to comprehend. Where does this anguish come from? From one heart or all hearts passing through one that weeps and screams? Between flashes of sense, the inflicted organ cries in mystification ‘Why me?’ I’ve thought ritual could answer that out-burst, if incompletely. Ritual is an act in which reason appears to falter as everyday logic does under the pressure of acute grief. Like scribbled pages, sacred ceremonies are over written until almost illegible;

exist as performances beyond practical need. Some retained elements, like the convoluting stone pattern, surpass meaning, yet pull us towards observation, repetition and awe. Grief, too, demands. The gravest grievers can’t repel. They sink below the present and causality into the sub-territory of The Templars, tympanum and the unknown; sink beyond natural justice and tenable remedy, and sometimes won’t surface for years. A stone face - where hooded arches meet - stares. No recognition in that visage; yet grieving seems concealed there. Is a face needed? In a holy interior (absent of effigies, images or figures) would the whole meaning be more graspable and tactile? I have seen in mosques, where no grotesque glares from facades, high walls paved with beautiful serene calligraphy. Yet an unfathomable grief breathed in that script. Last night, somewhere else, I met the severe mourner who in every direction saw her forfeit. All her acts or routes lead back to the centre of pain. She was youthful and could look - not outstanding or archetypal - but beautiful if she desired. She had been a common-sense person; then all at once through her loss, through that status as the excessive complainant, she’s become almost a deity that couldn’t be comforted. That transition shocks her more than her own sadness. She’s early in her bereavement, some might say, and still intensely in love with the one who has vanished. Yet, there appears no end or measure to her agony; terms such as early, late or big or small are obsolete. It fills every object, household or artistic, loads each second and occupies her sleep. Elegant structures with iconic or un-pictorial splendour must’ve been built in part for her. Each ashlar haunted expression, inexplicable angel and their rituals were designed to serve, to bring her through death to new life, to guide her from tomb to the birthplace. But she thinks there’s nothing out there for her. It hasn’t been written and no one who hasn’t ‘lived’ her grief could or would write about it. Last night, she spoke and each around the table saw an earlier imprint of themselves. I did, and wondered if my anguish had been once as colossal as hers is now. Every journey leads to finding or re-discovering grief. Viewpoints, such as seeing sorrowing like a journey, are meaningless. She sees no trip to or away from, but believes she carries it all right now. No human perspective will do. That’s

why she looks to need inhuman portals and stone guises to humanise her; must have this cold shell without praising voices, the stark drooped slits of despair on the wall or the alarming word un-imaged. Often, I think, the gigantic mourner needs the recurrent action that’s beyond sensible, needs the convoluted ingenuity of a pure shape like calligraphy or that a child parishioner once crayoned - ancient carving that still speaks and says nothing. What voice is that: the voice of abstract motif whose meaning has vanished, yet calls us to attention again and again? Not lost to the final despairer who might find in that indecipherable blank a glint, a nick of light. Last night I learned again that we can rarely soothe the absolutely discomforted with words or perception; but must try to find tricks, sleights of hand, devices, artful or ingénue, to escort her to the form or ritual that may comfort but remains beyond knowing. It’s past the time - by politeness and respect for the old lady’s and village custom - I should’ve departed. This House will stay exquisite and quizzical after I close the door and step out in the May light. Each carving, direct and unashamedly obtuse, will hold back its substance. The wind beats. A stray draught snakes between the pews and through stone space where a small group of the disgraced Knights once prayed toward Jerusalem. Over the way, behind, in the west wall alcove, above where tea and coffee are served after the Sunday service, glimmers the oldest stained glass roundel. Possibly too fragile for a volunteer to tidy up and polish until it looks glossy as adverts announcing the church’s world purpose. The deep round opening is left untouched as if an alien place, as if a wound that can’t be tended. wispy cobwebs swaddle surviving glass none can see through.

Last Day

A scented grotto the sticky path’s white-petalled to a mare’s paddock.

I journey between spires. The sun now an infrequent companion; field tracks wet and puddled, the creviced earth turns slippery; my trouser cuffs muddy and often drenched or ‘wetchered’ as some in these parts say. Yet the air’s warm, insect-swarming; I’ve had to spit out two I half-swallowed. Martins zoom close to ground level, scoop over hedgerows. Loaded cumulus, remarkably structured like antediluvian cities crowded with floral terraces, pass by wedged between plains of sloping grey; as if in this immediate sky all the weathers of time are expressed. The wind dropping, the way broadens into a partly gravel, rutted farm track. I pass sheared sheep, gleaming against parkland’s graphic green, under the estate’s wall. Copper beeches rise in scarlet and purple as the sun glows or cloud shadows. I come to another crown of spires. This time below branch tops, Blankney drifts in and out of view among hedges and ancient trees. simple butterfly leaps the restricted byway cloaked in burning white From time to time various reveries take me. I happen upon a statue along the path, half sheltered under a tall tree-hedge. There’s no joint effort busy with many hands, as at Dorrington. A six-foot king tries to lift from earth a stone, with such raw, gripping fingers I can imagine their aching. Perhaps the sword has already been removed or not yet stuck into the solid rock; he appears not a chosen lord, but a near-misser, a struggler with fate. His gaze laboured but stays open, even welcoming, taking in each passer-by without sympathy or reproach. He doesn’t stake a claim to this territory. He’s so engaged in his task, that seats-as-cut-stumps are provided for the traveller to rest and see if he can budge the obstacle an inch. I can’t stay. Walk on; but

his right eye follows – a clear pupil and I have to return for a second, longer look. His head appears a little out of alignment with his neck; a disablement that makes him seem stiff, inflexible. But his torso is vast; his extending arms have to stretch so far down to the crude block. His hands are determined; perhaps his fingernails have already scratched new runes on its surface. My gaze is pulled back to his enormous chest with subdued breasts. Then I see, from their cover, a warrior woman burst out with raised sword, from the splitting trunk. I leave the mysterious king and queen behind. Follow signs, and when signs become sparse and I’m almost lost, celebrate freedom and uncertainty; if I can resist the fear of never arriving, of walking in endless circles. Then, when signs return, there are too many arrows; at one place pointing four different ways. Such choice is disquieting and the supplied map not always helpful. But between these small villages, strung across the heath, arrival is inevitable, only a matter of time. But at times I suspend disbelief. A plover calls, dips up and down, whines, screeches, swoops; battles the air, with flapping awkward wings that look too big for its body, against no wind but the wholeness of existence. It finds passages to advance along over fine harrowed fields, always ready to crash land. Unlike the garden blackbird, singing uncontrollably from a treeperch, more like a curlew crying as its glides across acres or moor, but the plover hardly allows a glide, is always boxing with space, struggling for height. Now I stare, sweating from cloud’s and blue’s impact, shocked by the vast unlocked beauty bursting in my face. I imagine God as mad, beyond measure or logic and Creation His act of greatest unreason. God created nothing from sober reflection among the barrenness, or for his instant pleasure, if that means dabbling with sweetmeats. Conception was God at the most sacred extreme. He couldn’t contain His Love. It flooded from Him, a spurge of indecent beauty, nothing controlled, a rush of scent, sound, smell, taste and sense that produced beings in their millions. A super-numerous existence prevailed. Sometimes, my loving wife says, think how much more of everything there used to be: profusion of animals, plants, microcreatures and uncountable life-forms. Nothing reasonable or orderly in that first explosive heave – Infinity’s life-bang! From

God’s mouth Love flowed; His speech gabbled - with lunacy and uncomputable numbers - creation was perfect. I stroll through terrain’s near monocultural agriculture, each un-hedged field with the same crop. Still estranged corners, chaotic ditches, a grotto of hawthorns or a stream’s sloping sides break the monotony. Fallow land hints at a lost exuberance. Remnants from the crazy God’s amoré survives like a shadow of a beard across farm fields. The mystic, following a divine way, is thought insane; his vast praise, disorderly; his desire for annihilation, suicidal. That servant longs to be swamped in a procreative surge as if God could re-make it all again: Creation a repetitive art. Can existence’s delta-bursting wave come again? For the devoted it can; the countless extinct creatures can be revived. I pass by a wood’s edge; the trees lean across the bridleway, rattle overhead. Think on the unnumbered living things. In the past, when travellers were robbed and stabbed on their journey, left for dead by the way side, they expired in that million millions of life. As their blood drained into grass and weed’s micro hinterland, they knew the universe was beyond control, and beautiful. They died in infinitude’s lap. The overpopulace of being was always redemptive, the unconstrained order, a blessing. Those destined for heaven, and others for Hell, walked through the same paradisiacal profusion: the countless songs and illimitable scents, as if almost sainted before raised up or swallowed with the condemned. Now, we humans appear to wreck creation; our desire to manage, stifling the multitudes, shrinking nature until only patches of outrageous vegetation remain. We die in our control’s sterility, in our clinical washed-out colours. It’s as if humankind, the height of creation, bites God’s toes, pinches His side. So little we regard ecology and the natural surroundings – His generous out-pouring – we slap His face, smash a glass bottle over the Eternal’s head; disparage His beauty. Shockingly God retains His madness until the end. He doesn’t take stock, won’t sober up and act reasonably, prepared to defend what’s His, like a householder catching a burglar. God cherishes creation too much, with a love that defies understanding, like someone besotted; we are His created, even these fields stamped with our dictates, not just fences or barriers, but the entire pattern. His anger’s withheld, again and again, His absurd mercy overwhelms sense. He delays. As He delayed bringing life into being, He postpones its destruction. In the face of this pure unreason, the proud earth-wreckers think God dozes, doesn’t exist

or doesn’t care as if creation was just a fling, something long abandoned to our managing hands. But God, That One, continues. He won’t respond till His time, but waits, so teaming with affection for His creation, that it appears He loves what he hates; forgives what He forbids. The mystic, Sufi or saint knows to mirror this strangeness, to bless his enemies, to love what opposes him, what could cause him pain and loss, his stealth-killer approaching, or another that lurks in ambush. I’m sitting in the porch of St Oswald’s at Blankney, behind a screen door designed to keep birds from building nests over the stone archivolt entrance. The church is closed. A woman in high wellies with two dogs marches by beyond the screen, angling across the graveless lawn. A young man comes to the south side and peers up at the church tower and its scaffolding where no one is working, at least this afternoon. Then turns and steps away. Neither passer-by notices me. My thermos dribbles tea. I hadn’t properly screwed on the top earlier. Besides spotting my trousers, uncivil splotches gleam on the entrance floor. I plunk my shoulder-satchel down on the diamond-shaped tiles to cover the stains. Refreshed, writing in my notebook at a hectic pace, I put it away and step through the wire gate, closing it behind me, as the sign instructs. I’m uncertain if I’ve left the Madman in His stone House, who waits, with no contradiction, on the path ahead to ambush me with extreme Love.

Find VI: Returning the Band In freshening wind the wood edge swells. On approach slow-drops ping from sleeves. I realise the silky touch that wraps round the hair-band’s plastic spine, its springiness. First, I walk too far in, imagining I found it deeper under canopies, so need to turn back then remember a marker, the bluebell margins. Lowering it to the path, it doesn’t seem a child’s but a goddesses’ head dress. Has she missed it? Will I escape from her vigilant guards or be dismembered? Shyly I rest it on twigs and it takes the shape of all curved branches on the ground. So I leave it there. Wind whirring through trees, as through the undergrowth pink campions spy. The fissured floor starts to rejoin; healing-rain oozes each stiff clod back in place; underfoot earthy beliefs in wholeness and solidity return. I don’t want to give it up, but have no consent to keep that soft band. I ask shiny oaks, plain stitchwort and slender-backed firs for pardon. They let me stride out through the latch gate. Just enough light in the sky, to find my way.

Find VII: The Beloved I ask a scarecrow to speak, if it could, about the Beloved. It turns its straw head and says: Beyond what pain is un-understandable no further torture exists, not burning bars but the Beloved’s arms ready to welcome. Be confused – who’s beloved, who’s you. Can’t separate; then accept, be bewildered: a holy state, the blessedness that follows grief. The Beloved’s already approaching to hold you between sense and nonsense. Be empty as my straw legs and head, easily on fire. Give up on reason, don’t fantasise you can out-smart the Eternal One or keep your individual pursuits. The Beloved will use you like a rag to change the world you now despise. What’s beyond indiscernible sorrow, is Love. Sniff it when you see the blank wall bloom and try not to name it – rose or jasmine just say YOU over and over to the Beloved. * * * chiselled dignity ears upright - a hare poses leaps an earth-bound bird.

I’ll let my journey end with the hare among dog violets; though there were once many other observations, ideas and images that accumulated into a hay stack. But these thoughts have slipped from concern, to leave what is written above. Paul Sutherland/ Abdul Wadud

OTHER TITLES BY PAUL SUTHERLAND

2008, Selected Ben Nicholson Miniatures with calligraphy in collaboration with Mick Paine, handmade books 2004, Seven Earth Odes, Endpapers Press 2004, Holy Week Sequence, TC Parry Press 2000,Mid Atlantic, CD in collaboration with musician Graeme Scott 1995, founding editor of Dream Catcher Magazine 1981, The Town Boy 1970, Winter Poems (published in Canada)

“Some years ago I walked through Lincolnshire fens and heath between Lincoln and Sleaford to the south. I recorded impressions in poems and prose - the landscapes and communities I passed through in May when hawthorn and campion were in bloom. I had already converted to Islam, becoming a Sufi Muslim three years before.” - Paul Sutherland. Paul Sutherland, Canadian-British poet, arrived in the UK in 1973. He has six collections and has edited six others. Seven Earth Odes, (Endpapers Press, 2004) won critical praise in the UK, the US and Canada. He is founding editor of Dream Catcher, a distinguished international journal in its 23rd issue. A notable performer, he frequently reads his poetry in public. He attends festivals and leads workshops in creative writing for all ages and abilities. His poems have appeared in journals and anthologies. Since turning freelance (2004), he’s been involved in a wide range of literary based projects and events promoting his writing. He won the 2008 Nassau Review (US) Poetry Prize for best poem submitted to the journal and came 2nd in the English Association Poetry Prize 2009.

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